Rock Band 4 Expansion Includes Asynchronous Competition, Live-Action Cutscenes

Prepare to dive "Beneath the Tuneage."


Rock Band 4 developer Harmonix has now detailed the contents, release date, and price of the game's first paid expansion, Rock Band Rivals, which was originally announced during a panel at this year's PAX East.

The add-on--which requires Rock Band 4 to function--consists primarily of two brand new modes: the eponymous Rivals Mode--a feature set that allows players to form "clans" and indirectly compete against other crews by collectively advancing their clan's overall progress--as well as a separate, narrative-driven campaign called Rockudrama that frames the gameplay with live-action clips inspired by VH1's seminal Behind the Music series.

The expansion will eventually include synchronous online multiplayer too, though Rock Band product manager Daniel Sussman reiterated this functionality will be added in a separate update this December. Sussman also confirmed players must purchase the Rivals expansion in order to obtain the synchronous online multiplayer update; it will not be available as an independent download.

The Rivals expansion will also add new cosmetic items and venues.
The Rivals expansion will also add new cosmetic items and venues.

The rest of Rivals launches this October, and while the expansion itself will cost $30, Harmonix also announced a variety of bundles and pre-order bonuses that should bring the overall cost down for newcomers. These include the $60 Rock Band Rivals Digital Bundle that packages the expansion with the base game and the $200 Rock Band Rivals Band Kit, which bundles together the game, the expansion, a guitar controller, a wireless drum kit, and a wired USB microphone.

You can find full details on every deal--all of which will be available for pre-order later today--on the Rock Band 4 website. All pre-orders will unlock the following 10 songs for free at launch (which will later be available for purchase individually):

  • Bring Me The Horizon – "Happy Song"
  • Capital Cities – "Safe and Sound"
  • Eagle-Eye Cherry – "Save Tonight"
  • The Neighbourhood – "Sweater Weather"
  • Of Monsters And Men – "Little Talks"
  • Pharrell Williams – "Happy"
  • Semisonic – "Closing Time"
  • Sia – "Chandelier"
  • Skillet – "Feel Invincible"
  • Weezer – "King of the World"

During a recent demo, Sussman offered further details about both Rivals Mode and Rockudrama. Rivals Mode focuses on asynchronous online competition by allowing players to start or join a crew of up to 10 musicians. Once in a crew, nearly everything players do in the game will contribute towards their group's progress, allowing players to improve their crew's stats regardless of their individual skill level or instrument choice.

Certain Rock Band Rivals bundles come with exclusive in-game items like this cheeseburger t-shirt or a golden sword guitar.
Certain Rock Band Rivals bundles come with exclusive in-game items like this cheeseburger t-shirt or a golden sword guitar.

Rivals Mode also introduces new rewards, online leaderboards, and weekly challenges to encourage competition. Sussman stated the mode will receive consistent, on-going support and that more details would be revealed during this year's PAX West.

Rockudrama, on the other hand, focuses on local multiplayer (or solo play) by providing players with a "playable rock documentary" that chronicles their custom band's journey to stardom across multiple chapters of a linear narrative. While the core gameplay remains unchanged, sets will be bookended by live-action videos and interspersed with dynamic narration that comments on players' specific performances. If the drummer really blows it, for example, the narrator might casually point that out.

Bands will vote on setlists using the same system employed in Rock Band 4's "Play A Show" mode and earn fame based on the quality of each performance. Based on what we've seen so far, expect plenty of humorous narration, campy commentary, silly wigs, and possibly even multiple story endings.

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